Friday, December 16, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Meet Two SMWC Music Therapy Students Headed to Internship in January 2012

Jillian Storm is a native of Madison, Indiana. She has enjoyed playing the guitar since she was seven, and studied string bass throughout her undergraduate career. Jill participated in Jazz Band, Wind Ensemble, Chorale, and was a past Vice-President of Music Therapy Club and a member of Mu Phi Epsilon. In her free time, she is an avid photographer, reader, cyclist, and adventurer. In January, Jill will begin her six-month music therapy internship at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. She will be living near Indianapolis with a Woodsie who first encouraged her to attend SMWC. Jill hopes to enroll in one of SMWC’s Master of Arts in Music Therapy courses during her internship, and says she “love to work in a psychiatric setting and/or with children somebody…but also leave myself plenty of time to travel!”

1) How have you grown personally and academically since you began pursuing your undergraduate music therapy degree?

Ihave grown in many ways since I started pursuing my education at the Woods, and I would say that I grew in all of the right ways. SMWC has been the most stable and safe placein my life. Because of this, I have been able to grow academically, emotionally, and as a woman overall. All of the challenges I had faced in my lifeprior to coming here seemed like an ever-present shadow. From the time I stepped foot on this campus,I knew that the shadow would disappear and that this was my time – my time to become a Woodsie. Although I still had many struggles through the end of my junior year, I have broken through these and become a better “me” through hard work and the support of this community. I have also grown through the love and friendship shared with my Woodsie friends; they are the best friends I have ever had in my life.

2) What role has the SMWC music therapy faculty played in this development?

Sharon Boyle (Associate Professor of Music Therapy and Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Therapy) has played many roles throughout my entire undergraduate journey. Besides being my professor, clinical supervisor and advisor, she hasbeen my strongest mentor at SMWC. She has been one of the few people in my life who has truly held me accountable for my work. She has consistently pushed meand inspired me to be a strong, professional woman. I will not say that I have always liked the constant accountability, but without it I wouldn't have made it as a student and future music therapist. She is a great woman, and I owe a great deal to her and her hard work.

3) A unique aspect of the SMWC music therapy programis its emphasis on clinical music improvisation. What role has improvisation played in your experience as a musician and clinician?

Improvisation has been an important aspect of my growth as a future music therapist, as well as in my non-therapeutic music making. Although I have used improvisation in many of my supervised music therapy sessions, I have mostly used it when making music with my peers for Open Mic Nights, my own music-making, and as a memberof a small band. As a musician, it has changed my perspective on structures within music. As a future clinician, it has changed my understanding of how to musically meet clients’ needs.

Jena Jones grew up in LaPorte, Indiana. She studied flute in her time at The Woods, and was a member of Wind Ensemble, Chorale, and Music Therapy Club. An eternal optimist who always has a joke or smile to share, Jena also enjoys football and has worked various part-time jobs while obtaining her Bachelor’s degree. After completing her coursework in December, Jena will begin a music therapy internship at Opportunities for Positive Growth in Fishers, Indiana, where she will work with individuals with developmental disabilities under the supervision of an SMWC alumnus. Jena is also in the process of planning her wedding, and feels “blessed to be surrounded by so much happiness”.

1) Why did you choose music therapy and, specifically, the SMWC music therapy program?

Many times I tried to step away from music – it had felt more like a chore than a passion until I came to SMWC. I thought I had wanted to be a teacher, which then turned into a music educator; I wanted to help and work with people, but I had never been completely sure what career path was right for me until the moment I stepped onto the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College campus. I believe that everything happens for a reason, even things that cannot be explained. I realize now that sometimes you need to help yourself first to find what you’re seeking.

2) Has your perception of music as a therapeutic medium changed during your undergraduate study?

The Woods has opened my eyes to all the possibilities in the world. Through research, we know that music and other arts help children learn, express emotions creatively, and increases self-esteem. And it is not only children – music therapists know that music benefits everyone, therapists included. I carry with me the power of music as a therapeutic medium; it continually allows me to grow individually and as a clinician.

3) If you could give beginning music therapy students one piece of advice, what would it be?

Do not take your college experience for granted! Your experiences on the path you take make you who you are... I want to be a music therapist so I can spread my passion for music and show how it is an essential component of a complete life. My wish for you is that, when it is your turn to graduate and step into the “real world”, you be as passionate as I am about our profession.

*Cathleen Flynn, Music Therapy Student Assistant and junior music therapy major, completed this interview.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

2011 AMTA National Conference

The SMWC Music Therapy faculty, along with many current students and alums from both the undergraduate, equivalency, and graduate programs, just returned from the 2011 American Music Therapy Association Conference in Atlanta, GA. This annual conference includes sessions, trainings/institutes, musical performances, lectures, and so much more.

SMWC Music Therapy Faculty News:
Dr. Tracy Richardson, MT-BC (Associate Professor and Director of Music Therapy) presided over meetings as the new president of the Great Lakes Region of AMTA, in addition to providing a voice as an Assembly Delegate (think of this group as the "Congress" of music therapy in the United States).

Sharon R. Boyle, M.M., MT-BC (Associate Professor and Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Therapy) co-presented with Dr. Jennifer Jones (Western Illinois University) about a parallel project they completed with their students in the spring about intentional and mindful self care. In addition, she presided for SMWC colleague Dr. Patricia McIntyre, who presented about the role of ethics in music therapy advocacy.

Highlights of the conference include Dr. Kenneth Bruscia's lecture as part of the Sears Lecture Series (see picture, courtesy of Debbie Bates, MMT, MT-BC), Jodi Picoult's video interview explaining her process of writing her recent novel "Sing You Home" (with a music therapist as main character), Dr. Connie Tomaino and clips from the recent movie "The Music Never Stopped" (based on Tomaino's work with a former patient), and the attendance of musician Ben Folds (most recently seen as judge of the t.v. show "Sing Off") to Saturday and Sunday of the conference.

Finally, this conference also brought SMWC the news that the American Music Therapy Association has officially approved our Music Therapy Equivalency Distance (MTED) program, which will commence in Fall 2012.  See our website for more information:

The next national conference will be held in October 2012 in St. Charles, IL.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Intensive Summer Practicum Experience at SMWC

An important option for SMWC music therapy students is the Intensive Summer Practicum, which is typically open to music therapy students the summer following their junior year. All students who are interested must have demonstrated maturity, some solid music skills (but with need to utilize these skills in a consistent clinical setting), and must obtain approval from the Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Therapy and Academic Advisor. The ability to complete a summer practicum requires a student to pay tuition for 1 credit of independent study and commit to 4-5 weeks, full-time, at a music therapy placement under the direct supervision of an onsite music therapist (as well as the ongoing supervision of the faculty supervisor).

However, the most important factor in whether or not a music therapy student can complete a summer practicum experience is the willingness of music therapy clinicians to take on a student for this intensive experience. Working with students in a practicum requires supervision skill, strong clinical skills, and a commitment to the time needed to provide feedback and guidance to the student in collaboration with the faculty member. The SMWC music therapy faculty are so grateful to these professionals, one of whom is a graduate of the SMWC Master of Arts in Music Therapy program (Larisa McHugh, MA, MT-BC).

More than 15 SMWC music therapy students have completed a summer practicum in diverse settings and locations since the experience was developed by Sharon R Boyle, Associate Professor of Music Therapy, in 2003. Nina Galerstein, MM, MT-BC, first developed the idea and Boyle collaborated with her while teaching at another university. The experience was so successful that Boyle decided to develop a model which would work at SMWC. She has worked to develop long term relationships with skilled clinicians/supervisors and this has resulted in SMWC music therapy students entering internships with increased understanding of therapeutic process, improved clinical and music skills, professionalism, and a renewed excitement about their goal of becoming a music therapist. Some of the clinical sites and supervisors have included:

Nina Galerstein, MM, MT-BC-- Stockley Center (Georgetown, DE)
Larisa McHugh, MA, MT-BC-- Bethany Village (Dayton, OH)
Erin Fox, MA, MT-BC-- Good Samaritan at Stillwater (Stillwater, MN)
Ann Hannan, MT-BC-- Riley Hospital for Children -IU Health (Indianapolis, IN)
Lisa Swanson, MMT, MT-BC-- Orchard Manor (Lancaster, WI)
Jonni Fogerty, MM, MT-BC-- Fogerty Music Therapy (Bloomington, IN)
Julie Edgell, MA, MT-BC-- Meaningful Day Services (Fort Wayne, IN)

The experience and time that these clinicians have shared is invaluable to the future of our profession!

Recently, the following students completed summer practicum experiences:

Nicole Gilberti -- Orchard Manor
Katherine Mendenhall -- Riley Hospital for Children - IU Health
Briana Priester -- Bethany Village

Jennifer Whitlow ('11) (center) at end of summer practicum with Orchard Manor music therapy supervisors Nikki Bossenbroeck (far left) and Lisa Swanson (far right).
We will feature some students in the coming year, who will talk about their summer practicum experiences. These opportunities are an important aspect in the development of each Woods music therapy student!

Monday, September 26, 2011

SMWC Music Therapy Faculty, Students and Alums featured in article

The SMWC Music Therapy faculty, students, and alums from the program are featured in a recent article. The article highlights some aspects of music therapy from different perspectives, providing brief case examples. To view this article, just click here. For more information about music therapy or any of the music therapy programs at SMWC, contact the Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Therapy, Sharon R. Boyle, or Director of Music Therapy, Tracy Richardson. Contact information can be found on the SMWC Music Therapy webpages, by clicking here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Meet SMWC Music Therapy Alum: Amber Leavitt

Amber (Finch) Leavitt '09, grew up in central New York and moved to the Chicago suburbs at the age of 14.  While attending Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Amber was involved in many clubs and organizations as well as musical ensembles and theater productions.  She was the president of the World Wide Woodsies and Mu Phi Epsilon, and Vice-President of the Music Therapy Club.  She received the LaVerne Jackson Memorial Music Therapy Scholarship from Mu Phi Epsilon and the Indiana State Music Therapy Student scholarship.  Amber graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Therapy and is currently pursuing her master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Antioch University New England as well as working on her Level II Guided Imagery and Music practicum from Anna Maria College.  Amber currently resides in South Royalton, VT with her husband.
How do you feel you were prepared for professional life by the SMWC Music Therapy program?

Life has tossed me some curve balls in the last few years, but I was well equipped to handle these issues because of the strong education and leadership qualities I gained from the SMWC Music Therapy program.  The undivided attention and real sense of commitment and caring I received from the professors of this program and throughout the school really boosted my confidence and enticed my appetite for learning and growing as a student into a professional.  Whether I am working as a music therapist or in an unrelated field, I find that I am always drawing on the skills I gained from this program and often seen by my coworkers and employers as a competent, professional and enthusiastic leader.

What year did you graduate from the Woods and where did you complete your internship?

I graduated in 2009 and completed my internship at Park Nicollet Heatlh Services in Minneapolis, MN. My internship served Hospice, Oncology and patients with Parkinson's Disease.

What drew you to music therapy and why did you stay at the Woods in music therapy? Were there challenges in this decision?

I will admit that my initial decision to study music therapy was based on my own ignorant perception of the profession. My basic vision was of music being used receptively in a counseling setting. When I entered the major as a freshman I was really taken aback by the varied uses of music and the depth of the profession. This was an extremely overwhelming revelation to me and I left the major for a couple years to do some “soul-searching.” In those few years, I toyed around with some other career options, but in my heart kept coming back to music therapy and decided to rejoin the major my senior year. This decision was rooted in my strong desire to help others with music and my new understanding and acceptance of the many directions and paths to be taken in the profession of music therapy.

What was your experience following your internship and as you moved into the professional world?

Following my music therapy internship, my husband and I were in line to join the Peace Corps. When this venture did not turn out as expected, we settled in my husband's home town in Vermont and have continued living here ever since. This transition was very rough for me. Vermont is a beautiful state with amazing people, but very little opportunity in the job market for music therapy. I have had a number of part-time jobs over the past few years, only one of which actually related to the field of music therapy. So, after living in Vermont for close to two years, I have taken the challenge of taking my career into my own hands by attending graduate school, Bonny Method of Guided Imagery in Music (BMGIM) training, and starting my own music therapy practice. All of these endeavors are in the preliminary stages, but I am hopeful for my future career.

How do you feel you have developed and grown since leaving the SMWC Music Therapy program?

Since graduating from SMWC, my interests within the music therapy field have really expanded and become my own. The SMWC Music Therapy program gave me a great foundation of coursework and clinical experience and introduced me to a number of different focuses within the field. The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (BMGIM) was one of the areas I recall learning about and being fascinated by in my undergrad. I was encouraged and felt open to explore this realm and have since found this to be where I feel most comfortable in the music therapy field.  Without this broad, yet focused education that SMWC provided, I feel I would be unsure of my place within the field.

Why did you choose music therapy, and specifically, the SMWC Music Therapy program?

My belief in the power of music, my interests in the field of psychology and my strong desire to be in a helping profession are all reasons I decided to study music therapy. 

I chose to study at SMWC for a number of reasons.  I was instantly drawn to the school and the music therapy department because of the passion and dedication I sensed from the professors and students.  Also, it was important for me that I attend a small school where I could feel heard and valued, and the program gave me this opportunity.  Obtaining a well-rounded education was also extremely important.  There were endless ways within the school and the program to gain leadership skills and to grow both personally and professionally.  My decision to attend the SMWC Music Therapy program was a “no-brainer” and one of the best decisions I ever made.

What do you feel are the greatest strengths of the SMWC Music Therapy program, looking back as a graduate from a few years ago?

One of the greatest strengths of the SMWC program was the diverse clinical experience that students gain beginning in their freshman year.  Learning through experience was an extremely important component of becoming a music therapist and I believe I was well prepared professionally because of the hands-on nature of this program.

I also believe a great strength of the program was the collaborative feeling within the classroom.  The professors always encouraged dialogue and opinions of the students.  This provided a great learning environment and the ability to work with other students and professors closely.

Another strength of the program is the ongoing support from the school and professors.  During my internship and even years after graduating, I feel I still have the support of my professors and it is clear they truly care about their students, even when they are no longer in their classroom.

Have you worked as a music therapist? What other types of training and education have you obtained, or are you pursuing at this time? What are your future professional goals?

I have only held one music therapy position since graduating.  This position was at a continuing care community and I worked ten hours every other weekend as a music therapist on the memory care unit.  I really loved the position, but the hours were rough and with other commitments, I unfortunately could not make it work.

Despite not currently working as a music therapist, I still try to remain involved in the music community and music therapy world.  I am currently working on my imagery and music level II practicum, which I hope to complete next spring, and I will be attending graduate school shortly to pursue a Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree. Musically, I continue to teach and study voice and am currently working on a recital program which I will perform next spring.

In the future, I hope to obtain a counseling position that will also allow me to use my music therapy background.  Continuing to study the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music is also in my future and I am currently aspiring to use this work in a private setting.  I also hope to continue teaching voice lessons as well as performing and being as musically involved as I am able in my community.    

Do you feel you remain connected to the Woods, and specifically to the music therapy program and faculty? If so, how has this helped you as you moved into professional life and as you move toward your future goals?

The hardest part about leaving SMWC was the fear that I would no longer be connected to my friends and faculty members.  This has been anything but true.  Thanks to modern technology, I feel very connected to these people and they have provided support throughout my professional endeavors.  The music therapy faculty has been extremely present, whether I am in need of guidance or support in whatever I pursue.  This ongoing reassurance has been very helpful in my professional life, especially considering it is so easy to feel disconnected living in rural Vermont.  Without this support, I believe pursuing graduate school, my own private practice, and imagery and music training would have been very difficult.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Guest Speaker--from 2,000+ miles away!

The Clinical Improvisation class at SMWC had the wonderful opportunity to bring in a guest speaker/presenter who facilitated an interactive drumming/percussion experience. This guest was a music therapist sitting in San Diego while the SMWC music therapy students were in their Conservatory classroom. The wonders of technology allow us Skype presenters!

The music therapy classes have been incorporating Skype guest lecturers and presenters for a few years, but this presentation was pretty unique. Kat Fulton, MM, MT-BC, and NICU Music Therapist, is a speaker and board-certified music therapist whose passion is achieving therapeutic goals through making music. She has an active presence in social media through her blog Rhythm For Good ( and also through her organization SoundHealth Music )

During the class, she explained the limitations of "faciltiating" via Skype (sound delay!), and went on to engage the students in playing instruments, singing, explained how these experiences can be used in a variety of clinical settings (specifically with older adults), taught the students how to "self-faciltiate", and then allowed time for questions.

The use of technology in clinical work is becoming more prevalent and SMWC is working to provide students with teaching new ways of engaging clients, such as the option of combining live music and technology or providing students with a model of a new way to engage with others in areas related to music therapy. Kat Fulton's Skype Drum presentation was one way the students were able to benefit from a professional's generosity and area of expertise, without the boundary of distance.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Academic Year Begins at the Woods!

(Picture: Grace Dubrowski, far left/back row, worked as a YMCA Day Camp Counselor this summer)

The summer is beginning to fade away as SMWC makes preparations for classes to begin on Tuesday, August 23, 2011.

There have been a lot of SMWC music therapy happenings over the summer! Music therapy students had jobs at various summer camps (e.g. Camp Lee Mar in Pennsylvania, working with children with special needs, YMCA camp, etc.), one student completed the Jamaica Field Project in June, and several completed summer practicums in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Ohio. In addition, several students completed their internships, got music therapy positions, got engaged, and one recent graduate got married.

(Picture: Cathleen Flynn, conducting supervised music therapy sessions as part of the Jamaica Field Service Project)

Features about various student experiences, as well as features about interns, first professional jobs, and recent graduates/alums will occur throughout the coming year. In addition, current music therapy students will continue to be highlighted and interviewed because SMWC music therapy students are doing wonderful things...our students are dedicated to affecting change in the world in a variety of ways. The upcoming generation of music therapists are stellar and we are happy to sing their praises!

(Picture: Sherry Bube, far left, Evening Program Leader and Outdoor Living Skills Instructor for Bradford Woods Therapeutic Recreation Summer Camps).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Meet Julia Lopez-Kaley -- Completing Internship and Looking to the Future

Julia Lopez-Kaley grew up in St. Joseph, MN, and moved to Milwaukee, WI, when she was 10. She is a woman who encompasses compassion and service to others. She spent a semester prior to her internship volunteering for the Sisters of Providence and spent several Spring Breaks assisting those affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and working in a soup kitchen/shelter in New York City. While a student on campus, she was a Resident Advisor, Vice-President of Music Therapy Club, and won the Zapapas Servant Leadership Award as a junior. She took time from her busy schedule to respond to a few questions.

Where are you completing your internship this summer? What is unique about this music therapy internship experience?
I am completing my internship at Finger Lakes DDSO in Newark, New York, a New York State facility serving adults 21 and older with developmental and intellectual disabilities. My caseload primarily consists of individual and 2:1 therapy sessions at a Day Habilitation facility in Newark and Geneva, New York. I have been learning how to work under an improvisational music therapy approach, which is based on the Nordoff-Robbins Model of Creative Music Therapy and humanistic psychology. In each session, a wide variety of music experiences are presented to the client(s) to aid in sensorimotor, cognitive, communication, and/or affective/emotional development.

How do you feel you have developed and grown since starting the SMWC Music
Therapy program?

The amount that I have developed and grown since starting the SMWC music therapy program is completely immeasurable. When I think back to my freshman year of college, I don’t think “that person” could have guessed how much she would change and grow. The music therapy program at The Woods, the professors, and the entire experience completely transformed me. My confidence has grown, my skill set, my understanding, my awareness, openness, and acceptance of myself and of others. The music therapy program truly guided me down the path to start becoming the music therapist I am striving to be in the near future.

How do you feel you were prepared for your internship by the SMWC Music Therapy program?
Specifically, the use of improvisation and the support and encouragement to grow musically, clinically, and personally prepared me for my internship. Because I am learning how to work using clinical improvisation at my internship, the improvisation class at The Woods and the close relationships with my professors helped me tremendously, both as a musician and as a growing therapist. I may not have realized my love for the Creative Music Therapy model without the culture of clinical music improvisation and constant musical support. I feel that my experiences (both in the classroom and outside of it) and the support of the professors prepared me clinically and personally for my internship, as well as for what is to come when I am finished.

Why did you choose music therapy, and specifically the SMWC Music Therapy program?
It started with one of the simplest and most common responses: "I want to use music to help people." When considering careers, I could not imagine choosing a career that did not include music, yet I did not want to teach it and I did not want to perform for a living. Music therapy just fit the description of what I wanted in a career. Though what I wanted continued to change and transform as my understanding grew, the core passion for using music as the medium for change and growth always remained very strong and was nurtured and strengthened by all the music professors.

What do you feel are the greatest strengths of the SMWC Music Therapy program?
I chose the SMWC Music Therapy program because I connected to the professors and the campus, and I was attracted to the idea that I would be given the opportunity to observe in a clinical setting as early as the second semester of my freshman year. I knew that I would be part of a community that held similar values as I did and that I would receive close guidance and attention. I felt the many strengths of the SMWC Music Therapy program and the entire department when I auditioned and interviewed. I felt the warmth and friendliness of the professors, and I trusted them, right from the beginning.

I went to a large high school outside of Milwaukee and always thought that I would attend a large state college after high school. Before setting foot on the grounds of The Woods, I thought, "A women's college (smaller than my high school graduating class) in the middle of the woods?! Never." But when I drove onto the campus the first time and met the music professors, all of that changed completely. I fell in love with the beauty and peacefulness of The Woods and the friendliness of its students and professors, and knew by the end of my two-day visit that it was the place for me. I think that my years at The Woods, though challenging at times, were some of the best of my life. I now consider it my home and the wonderful people that I have met part of my family. In the end, it just felt right to me, and I have never regretted my choice.

How do you feel now that you're about to head into the music therapy
professional world? What are your goals for your future now that you've
completed your education/training at SMWC?

I am excited that I will finally have the chance to use the skills I have acquired to support and aid in the change and growth of others. With change comes anxiety, so I am definitely feeling that too. I hope to get my master's degree within the next 5 years, and my dream would be to complete Nordoff-Robbins training. Ultimately, I don't know where I will end up 5 or 10 years from now, but I continue to strive to be open to change, growth, and the many professional possibilities that are out there.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Recent SMWC music therapy graduate provides services through Bridges of Indiana

Another SMWC music therapy graduate provides music therapy services in Terre Haute, IN. Morgan May ('10) is employed at Bridges of Indiana and serves a wide range of clientele through the agency.

SMWC music therapy graduate provides services in Terre Haute, IN

Music therapy services provided at Spectrum Industries, Inc. and at Hamilton Center Inpatient Psychiatric Unit in Terre Haute, IN, are provided by Lylia Forsyth, MT-BC, who graduated from the SMWC music therapy program in 2008.

UPDATE 8/08/11: Spectrum Industries has recently changed to Developmental Services, Inc but continues to offer music therapy. Music therapy also remains available at Hamilton Center's Inpatient Unit.
Lylia Forsyth, MT-BC, can now be reached at (812)238-1500 or

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What IS Music Therapy?

Have you just heard about music therapy? Not sure what it entails? Check out this post by Ronna Kaplan, MA, MT-BC, President of American Music Therapy Association, who writes about music therapy in a Huffington Post blog, providing clinical examples:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Music Therapy Faculty Award Winner

Tribune Star (Terre Haute, IN) article about SMWC Commencement 2011.
Sharon R. Boyle, Associate Professor of Music Therapy and Coordinator of the SMWC Undergraduate Music Therapy Program, received the Sr. Mary Joseph Pomeroy Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching.

Click here for Boyle Faculty Bio

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Meet Grace Dubrowski, Junior Music Therapy Major

Grace Dubrowski, junior music therapy major, from Lake Saint Louis, MO.

Grace attended St. Dominic High School, where she was active in the music and athletic programs. She plays numerous instruments, including clarinet. She enjoys running, composing, and spending time with family and friends. She is working as a student assistant Band Librarian, is a Student Ambassador for SMWC, and is Assistant Track Coach at South Vermillion High School.

What drew you to pursue music therapy as a major?

When I was in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to study in college. I knew I wanted to be in a career where I helped people, so I began looking into all kinds of careers, from special education to massage therapy. I knew that music was my passion, but I also knew I didn't want to be a performance major. Around September of my senior year, I had finally settled on music education, but was still uneasy with my decision. One day I was talking to my mom about my future, and I said, "I wish there was a major where I could help people through music." I remember her looking at me and saying, "Have you considered music therapy?" I had never heard of this career and after researching it further, I knew that this was exactly the career I wanted.

Why did you decide to study music therapy at SMWC?

When I first visited the Woods, I was deciding between music therapy at SMWC and another institution. After visiting and talking to the music therapy faculty, I decided that the Woods was the right place for me for two main reasons: 1) I was guaranteed to receive individual attention with the small class sizes. I knew I would have the close classroom environment that I thrive in, both with faculty and my peers; and 2) I would be placed in the field (second semester of my first year) very early. For me, there is no better way to learn than hands-on learning. I wanted to "get my feet wet" as soon as possible, and I have already experienced three different clinical settings. The SMWC music therapy program has made me realize how much I love this career path!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cathleen Flynn Heads to Jamaica After Winning Scholarship

Cathleen Flynn, sophomore music therapy major, was recently awarded the $1500 LaVerne Jackson Memorial Music Therapy Scholarship through Mu Phi Epsilon. She is the 4th SMWC music therapy student to win this award in the past 10 years.

This honor has made it possible for her to accept an offer to participate in the Jamaica Field Service Project this June. She will volunteer in an intensive experience in rural Jamaica with other students from around the United States and Canada, under the supervision of board certified music therapists. The experience will include immersion in the culture, learning traditional drumming and songs, as well as working in varied rural school and healthcare settings. For more information about the Jamaica Field Service Project, visit:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Congratulations Student Leaders!

Congratulations to the following music therapy students who will take on their new roles in the 2011-12 academic year: Student Senate President: Sherry Bube Student Senate Representatives: Laura Kempton and Cathleen Flynn Junior Class Secretary: Grace Dubrowski Presidential Corps Members: Laura Kempton and Sherry Bube Resident Advisor: Nicole Gilberti Orientation Leaders: Megan Neyer, Cathleen Flynn, Laura Kempton, and Sherry Bube

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

MTC Executive Board 2011-12

Elections for the SMWC Music Therapy Club Executive Board (2011-12 academic year) were held today and the new board is as follows:

  • President -- Laura Kempton

  • Vice-President -- Cathleen Flynn

  • Secretary -- Grace Dubrowski

  • Treasurer -- Nicole Gilberti

  • Parliamentarian -- Sherry Bube

Congratulations to the new officers!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Meet one of our first year Music Therapy students!

Sherry Bube, music therapy major and soprano, is from Brown County, Indiana.

Prior to coming to SMWC, she studied music with Lindsay Medina (IU). She has a wide range of musical interests from folk to classical music, and loves to attend the opera when she has time. She enjoys traveling and has been to Australia and Germany. In addition, she loves acting and was the lead in SMWC's production of "The Winter's Tale" this Spring.

Why did you choose music therapy as a major?

I chose to study music therapy because it allows me to combine two passions of mine - music and a genuine interest in helping others. After researching the profession, it also appealed to me as something that I will receive great satisfaction from working in this field - not just in the short-term, but for the rest of my life. Because music is a modality that is found within all cultures and societies and spans across various facets (such as generations, races, education levels, and spiritual belief systems), it is a commonality that allows for a music therapist to work with clients from various populations and with different needs. Addressing the needs of the client in a way that provides a level of ease to them while working towards achieving non-musical goals (including communication, social, cognitive, and motor skills), drew me into the field of music therapy, as well as it being profession where I can have a rewarding career helping others through music.

Why did you decide to study music therapy at the Woods?

When looking at the various MT programs that other colleges had to offer, a drawback that I found was the lack of observation and field work time. In many places, you wouldn't start until your Junior or Senior year observing, whereas, here at SMWC, you begin observations as a freshman in your second semester and continue until graduation. Especially with the field of music therapy, there is a difference between reading about and learning about different aspects of it (such as assessment, treatment planning, data collection) to actually observing music therapy being implemented with a client or a group of clients. Another aspect that drew me to the MT program at the Woods was the small professor to student ratio. This particular aspect allows for one to be able to have a learning environment in which inquiry and exploration are encouraged, personalized attention is given in all classes, as well as being able to be challenged to grow and develop into a woman who is well-equipped to be a leader in her profession and community. Although there is much more that I could say about why I decided to come to the Woods, I highly recommend a campus visit so that you can discover your own reasons for choosing the Music Therapy program at SMWC. Although the program can be challenging at times, it is highly rewarding!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cathleen Flynn, sophomore music therapy major, presents Vocal Recital

"Let Beauty Awake"

Presented by:

Cathleen Flynn, mezzo-soprano
Ronald D. Maurey, accompanist

Time/Date: Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.

Location: Cecilian Auditorium, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

Songs will include:

Selections from "Songs of Travel" by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Selections from "Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson" by Aaron Copland

"Blue Mountain Ballads" by Paul Bowles

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ring Day 2011

We are proud of our music therapy students who will be Ring recipients this weekend at Ring Day. Ring Day is an important tradition at SMWC, and typically involves juniors in their second semester, but it is based on accumulation of a certain number of credits, so transfer students are also eligible. The Woods ring is a strong symbol of the SMWC history and tradition, connecting every person who wears it. The ceremony involves faculty in all their regalia, a service in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the Chorale singing, family and friends attending, etc. Excitement and energy are very present on our campus this week in anticipation of this big day!

Music therapy Ring recipients this year include:
Katherine Mendenhall
Nicole Gilberti
Jena Jones

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March at the Woods

Spring is finally approaching after a very cold winter! We'll know spring has arrived at the Woods when we see buds on the trees.

This has been an exciting week for our music therapy students as they were able to meet Lori Alviso Alvord, M.D., author of "The Scalpel and the Silver Bear", which the students were assigned to read this semester. Alvord was the first female, Navajo surgeon and was a speaker on the College's 4-Star Series last night.

The students had the opportunity to do some book discussions in class this week, followed by lunch with Dr. Alvord yesterday and then the lecture at 7:00 p.m.

Alvord's message of encouraging each of us to embrace the Navajo ideal of "Walking in Beauty" and bringing harmony to all facets of our lives, the lives of others, and the environment, resonated with those of us who have chosen to serve others through music in healthcare.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Music Never Stopped

(Information from the website for "The Music Never Stopped")

"The Music Never Stopped," based on the case study "The Last Hippie" by Dr. Oliver Sacks, M.D. ("Awakenings"), chronicles the journey of a father and son adjusting to cerebral trauma and a lifetime of missed opportunities. Through the music that embodied the generation gap of the 1960s, the film weaves the heartwarming progress of Henry and Gabriel's relationship.

In 1967, after his father Henry Sawyer (J.K. Simmons) forbids him to see a Grateful Dead concert, prodigal son Gabriel Sawyer (Lou Taylor Pucci) runs away from home. Nearly twenty years later, Henry, a straight-laced engineer and lover of big band music, is shocked to learn that his estranged son requires major surgery to remove a previously neglected brain tumor.

After the operation, the extent of Gabriel's condition is made clear: the tumor damaged the part of his brain that facilitates the creation of new memories. For Gabriel, past, present, and future become indistinguishable, and he lives fixed in the era of Vietnam, acid trips, and psychedelic music. Determined not to let their son slip away from them again, Henry and wife Helen (Cara Seymour) vow to connect with Gabriel, who is barely able to communicate effectively. Unhappy with Gabriel's lack of progress, Henry does his own research on brain injuries, which leads him to Dr. Dianne Daly (Julia Ormond). She is a music therapist who has used her methods to make significant progress with victims of brain tumors.

As Diane works with Gabriel, she realizes that he is most responsive to the music of the Rock and Roll era - The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and particularly the Grateful Dead. Even though he is unaware that the era of his music has long passed, the effect is remarkable, and he begins to be able to have conversations and express himself. Although Henry loathes rock and roll, he is determined to forge new memories and salvage his relationship with his son. While his own health fails, Henry begins his own pilgrimage through the bands of the sixties. As he learns the songs that animate his son's soul, he indeed begins to form an unusual but emotionally vibrant bond with the child he thought he had lost.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Happy New Year!

As we start the new year, we have four SMWC music therapy students currently in their internships all around the country: Jennifer Pinson (Wisconsin), Julia Lopez-Kaley (New York), Brenda Siefferman (New York, and Gloria Stearns-Bruner (Indiana). We wish them all well as they complete their internships this year.

We look forward to this semester with Open Mic Night, Singing Valentines fundraiser, the Association for Indiana Music Therapy state meeting on February 11th, and so much more!